The Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund was founded at UC Davis in 2004 by the Bonaccorsi family. The scholarship was
developed in response to the overwhelming reaction of friends and wine professionals interested in creating a lasting memorial
to the man who generously shared his knowledge and talents throughout his brilliant, yet tragically short career. Wally's
quickly stepped in to lend its support by creating the Wally's Central Coast Wine and Food Celebration
. To date, the fundraiser has raised over $150,000
- making it the primary source in funding the scholarship,
which now totals nearly a half of a million dollars, a portion of which is awarded yearly to a qualifying recipient of the
Michael Bonaccoris Scholarship at UC Davis' Department of Viticulture and Enology
, and beginning in 2011, the Michael Bonaccorsi Endowment at Allan Hancock College
. The funds were created in the memory of Michael Bonaccorsi, considered among California’s most gifted
and passionate young winemakers. Scholarships are a key component of the UC Davis’ and Allan Hancock College’s
Department of Viticulture and Enology’s teaching programs, providing a vital stepping stone for students pursuing careers
in the California wine industry. Awarding a scholarship to a deserving student is one of the most direct and powerful ways
to impact their lives.
Each year, a deserving student displaying outstanding achievement in winemaking along
with a genuine passion for the field will receive a generous grant helping with his or her financial needs.
Michael Bonaccorsi was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1960. By the
age of twenty-one, he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. He moved out to San Francisco to be closer to the California wine
country, his first job as a stock boy at a wine shop. After a short time selling wine for a distributor, he became interested
in becoming a sommelier, eventually landing him at Masa's Restaurant. After a three-year course of study and exams, Bonaccorsi
became the twentieth American to be awarded the Master Sommelier Diploma.
In addition to Masa's, Bonaccorsi served
as a sommelier and manager at Cypress Club and Zola's until his arrival in Los Angeles to become Sommelier at the original
Spago Restaurant, and then the Beverly Hills location.
As the director of Spago's wine program, the restaurant has been
recognized for its excellence in wine service by the Wine Spectator (Best of Award of Excellence each year since 1995), Food
Arts, Wine and Spirits Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.